Journal of the Illinois State Historical Society, Winter 2022
Volume 115, Number 4
More and more, I feel that we had struck upon what ought to be a truth.
Posterity may dig it up, and profit by it.
—Miles Coverdale, narrator of The Blithedale Romance, by Nathanial Hawthorne
Hawthorne, speaking through “Coverdale,” describes a fictionalized failed utopian community in 1840s Massachusetts. History is filled by the wreckage of good ideas shattered on the shoals of human frailty, ego, and miscalculation. But as Hawthorne suggests, important things may be learned by examining lost hopes. Perhaps a dream is resurrected. “A Missed Opportunity in the Catholic War on Poverty: Chicago’s Archdiocesan Inter-Parish Movement” by Kevin Ryan offers an analysis of a failed effort in the 1960s to bring together poor inner-city parishes and affluent city and suburban ones in a movement to learn from each other while fighting poverty and racism.
But, Ryan notes, the effort came at one of the worst periods of racial tension in the city’s history, as white ethnic neighborhoods sometimes reacted violently to the movement of Black citizens into their enclaves. The program’s goal was to put teeth into the Catholic War on Poverty by allowing the poor and affluent parishes to work together on the challenges of income inequality and race. Sadly, these challenges remain, confounding our relations with one another.
Daniel Garrison Brinton lived through a challenging time in Illinois a century before Chicago’s racial crisis. As the surgeon in charge of the US Army General Hospital in Quincy, Brinton was relieved to escape the carnage of the Chancellorsville and Gettysburg battlefields but found much to keep him occupied supervising a five-building complex. Jonathan W. White and Michael Sparks have edited and annotated his letters home to Pennsylvania family. In his frank comments to relatives, Brinton recounts tensions in Quincy, a city and area he believed dominated by Democrats, various business ventures, efforts to get out the soldier vote in the 1864 election, and his use of the race card to break a strike by Irish washerwomen.
Through strong scholarship and analysis, Wayne Duerkes takes us into an Ottawa general store as Illinois-Michigan Canal construction created an economic boom in the mid-1830s. “Conrad Seabaugh & Company: An Inside Look at an Illinois Hinterland Merchant” utilizes the day books kept by Seabaugh during the years he operated the business. Placing him in the context of his times’ business practices, Duerkes demonstrates not only the economic power of the canal project but the national economic conditions and Seabaugh’s likely erratic business practices influencing the enterprise’s success and failure. Merchants like Seabaugh, the author contends, played a prominent role in local economic development.
Though touching two centuries of history, these articles share a common theme—challenge and response. As our state sails on into the twenty-first century, it is helpful, no important, to never lose the lessons offered by the past.
Robert D. Sampson, PhD
Editor, Journal of the Illinois State Historical Society
A Missed Opportunity in the Catholic War on Poverty: Chicago’s Archdiocesan Inter-Parish Movement
The Civil War Letters of Dr. Daniel Garrison Brinton, Surgeon in Charge at the US Army General Hospital in Quincy
Edited by Jonathan W. White and Michael Dwight Sparks
Conrad Seabaugh & Company: An Inside Look at an Illinois Hinterland Merchant
Southern Illinois University at 150 Years: Growth, Accomplishments, and Challenges
Edited by John S. Jackson
Reviewed by Michael Batinski
The House the Madigan Built: The Record Run of Illinois’ Velvet Hammer
By Ray Long
Reviewed by David W. Scott
Ebony Magazine and Lerone Bennett Jr.: Popular Black History in Postwar America
By E. James West
Reviewed by Sundiata Djata
Dangerous Ideas on Campus: Sex, Conspiracy, and Academic Freedom In the Age of JFK
By Matthew C. Ehrlich
Reviewed by Richard Hughes
Freedom, Land and Community: A History of McLean County Illinois, 1730-1900
By Greg Koos
Reviewed by Ann Durkin Keating
Fortune and Faith in Old Chicago: A Dual Biography of Mayor Augustus Garrett and Seminary Founder Eliza Clark Garrett
By Charles H. Cosgrove
Reviewed by Richard C. Lindberg
After Redlining: The Urban Reinvestment Movement in the Era of Financial Deregulation
By Rebecca K. Marchiel
Reviewed by Ian Rocksborough-Smith
Monsignor John Egan headed the Archdiocese of Chicago’s Office of Urban Affairs and envisioned the Archdiocesan Inter-Parish Movement as a way to tackle both poverty and race discrimination.
–Photo courtesy of the Archdiocese of Chicago